With limited exceptions, when you enter into a contract to purchase a property with an existing house or home unit, you are purchasing the property with that house or home unit. But what about other items on the property, such as the blinds, light fittings, or the dishwasher?

Items on the property are classed as either fixtures or fittings. Generally, unless the contract specifies otherwise, the property is sold with its fixtures, and in “the state that you find it”.

But what is the difference between a fixture and a fitting?

A fixture is something that is difficult to remove from the property without causing damage to the property. A common example of a fixture is a fireplace, stove, toilet or kitchen sink. A fixture, such as a stove, which is usually connected to gas or electricity, has been installed in the property will likely cause damage, and be difficult to remove from the property. In comparison, a fitting, such as a microwave or fridge that are only plugged into an electrical wall socket can be removed from the property with relative ease.

But what if I’m unsure if an item is a fixture or fitting?

The contract for the sale and purchase of land contains a list of some of the more contentious items that can be classed as either a fixture or fitting (the inclusions and exclusions). We recommend that you review the items that have been marked as an inclusion or exclusion to identify what items are being sold with the property.

If the item is not on the list of inclusions or exclusions, or you are unsure as to whether an item is a fixture or fitting, have your lawyer list the item specifically in the contract. That way there can be no confusion as to whether the item stays with the property.

How do I make sure that a fixture or inclusion remains with the property?

If you are concerned that a fixture or an item listed as an inclusion in the contract has been removed from the property, you can undertake a final inspection of the property prior to settlement. If you attend a final inspection of the property, and an item has been removed from the property that should have remained, contact your lawyer straight away. Settlement can be postponed until the item is returned to the property, or an agreement can be reached for the deposit to be retained by the agent so that reasonable compensation for the item can be paid.